Alcohol Wine Substitutes in Cooking

Alcohol/Wine Substitutes in Cooking

Much of this is information I’ve found through experimentation over the years – starting with intuition and working my way through to knowledge…with a few bumps in the road here and there! Hopefully, you’ll find what you need here, if not, please leave a comment and I’ll answer as quickly as I can.

The BEST beef stew, with wine or not, with bacon or not. Serve over mashed or noodles.

The BEST beef stew, with wine or not, with bacon or not. Serve over mashed or noodles.

I get calls from friends and family all the time with questions like, “I want to make this, but I don’t have that…” I always give them a suggestion or two, but here’s what I’d like to tell them – of course, if they find this post, I’ll miss their phone calls!

If all this is TMI, scroll to the bottom for a few “rules of thumb” and some ratios in substituting. This discussion is probably the most comprehensive you’ll find on substituting, but if you have a question, need direction or have other ideas, comment below – I’m happy to offer a suggestion, I’d love to hear your ideas!

I do love cooking with wine and various alcohols, especially liqueurs. I find them to be a relatively inexpensive ingredient, generally packing in a lot of flavor and enhancement to many recipes at not a lot of cost. At the risk of sounding stuffy, even a tiny teaspoon or so of the more expensive liqueurs added to a fresh berry sauce can elevate it from wonderful to sublime.

At the same time, if I’m considering frugality, I have to consider the overall cost. What is the alcohol/wine I’m thinking of using?

  • How expensive is it?
  • How well does it store?
  • Will the rest of it be put to good use?
  • Do I, perhaps, have something on hand already that I‘d like to use up?
  • Will I need to purchase something especially for this dish?

As an aside, sometimes if I need a small amount of alcohol for a recipe, and it’s something I can’t imagine using in the future, I’ll purchase an ‘airline’ size bottle if available – Need I mention the 12-year-old bottle of Kirsch that I still have, leftover from a fondue?

What is the reason for substituting?

There may be many reasons I’d consider substituting one alcohol for another or an alcoholic ingredient for a non-alcoholic one. Here’s a few off the top of my head.

  • Abstinence:  Those who abstain may or may not be concerned about alcohol found in food depending upon their outlook and personal choices. All of the alcohol does not cook off in the process of cooking and baking, as was so often stated in the 60‘s and 70‘s. Some recipes and methods may cook off most of the alcohol, but some always remain behind.
  • Availability:  A certain wine or alcohol may not be readily available in your area. At the very least, may necessitate a trip to another store. There are those who just don’t keep alcohol in the house. (I have teenagers, and I’ve learned it’s not cost-effective or prudent for me to keep a bottle of Gran Marnier in the cupboard, for instance, to be downed in a sitting by my son and his friends! And that, my dears, is a whole ‘nother story!)
  • Cost:  A thrifty cook may want to get by with what he/she has, perhaps to use up what’s in the cupboard or to avoid paying for an additional purchase. One may want to substitute a less expensive ingredient for a more expensive one.
  • Food Allergy:  There could be any number of people who are allergic to sulfites, found in wine, or perhaps some ingredient in other alcohols.
  • Religious Preference:  A great many religions advocate abstaining from alcohol.
  • Taste:  Maybe a recipe or dish looks fantastic, but you or someone in your family doesn’t like the taste of the particular alcohol called for and you’d like to change the flavor profile, or maybe you’re serving to children and want to avoid a heavy alcohol taste – sometimes strong flavors don’t appeal to children (or adults.)

What is your Alcohol bringing to the table or to the Recipe?

Decide what the alcohol in the recipe does in terms of both flavor, sugars, acidity and liquid amount.

For example: You’re looking at a recipe for a sauce that has a cup of red wine and it’s reduced by half in the cooking process.  Changing out one wine for another will be pretty straightforward as long as you keep to the general flavor of the wine.

If you want to eliminate the wine, you’ll know right away you’ll want something that has a lot of dark notes, a fairly strong, rich flavor, a touch of something acid and a bit of sweetness, and you’ll need to end up with about 1/2 cup of liquid.

Is wine or alcohol the primary ingredient/flavoring in the food you’re making?

If so, you may be changing the very nature of the dish by making changes to the ingredients – sometimes this is a good thing; it depends on your expectations.

Sometimes far more successful substitutions may be made when the alcohol is a merely a minor note in the symphony, rather than the whole band, if you get my drift.

Here’s an example:  A classic dish like Boeuf Bourguignon, which nearly always calls for a full bottle of Burgundy AND a little brandy is not going to be the same dish if a substitution is made.  It can still be a fantastic dish with a different wine, but it will not be Boeuf Bourguignon. I regularly use Beaujolais, generally a much less expensive wine instead of Burgundy when making this dish – less expensive and my family prefers a milder flavor profile.

If you’re looking for a non-alcoholic substitute, for instance, stock, broth or tomatoes, then you are serving a stew, which is fantastic in its own right, but still not a Boeuf Bourguignon. Here is a stew, Beef with Wine (or Not) and Bacon that I’ve adapted from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe I’ve made for years. Beef, Mushrooms, Pearl onions – it’s wonderful with or without wine. I’ve made a few suggestions on how to remove the alcohol and still maintain a rich flavor.

Sometimes a substitution where the alcohol plays a less key performance is an easier one to make – a no-brainer.

Examples might be:

  • substituting a rum extract for a tablespoon of scotch in a dessert sauce,
  • using a bit of orange schnapps instead of Grand Marnier in frosting,
  • substituting a tablespoon of orange juice concentrate or a squeeze of fresh orange juice in a berry sauce.

If you don’t need the little zap of flavor the alcohol will give the dish, you can even leave out small amounts.

Is the substitution you’re making in keeping with the flavor profile of the dish or the menu?

You wouldn’t necessarily want to make dessert pears poached in wine with chicken broth and vinegar for instance (a common substitute for white wine in a savory dish,) and you may not want to substitute the tequila in a tequila marinated chicken breast with a wine in a menu of Southwestern-inspired dishes.

You might successfully make your dessert pears with any number of alcohols or extracts, simple syrups or juices and keep the true nature.

The tequila chicken breasts may be just as good changed up with chicken broth and a dash of vinegar or lime for tartness, keeping that astringency of the tequila and giving a nod to the southwestern flavor. A dash of vodka, if you have it on hand, wouldn’t hurt, either.

When thinking about substituting a less expensive alcohol for a more expensive one, consider how the flavor will play out and what will affect that flavor.

You can find fantastic bargains in wine and liquors if you’re shopping well – and if you can give up the idea that everything has to be top shelf or expensive to be good.

Price is not always an indicator of quality. Many producers make wines or alcohols targeted to different budgets and different taste – they want that share of the market.  I’ve had fantastic wines that have only been a few dollars a bottle, and some really crappy expensive ones. Of course, I’ve had fantastic expensive ones and crappy, cheap ones, too!

I do notice a correlation of price to quality more in alcohols, for instance in a top-shelf tequila compared to one geared toward the younger crowd.

(As an aside, I do love Alton Brown’s idea of filtering your cheap Vodka through a coffee filter several times –  he said the main difference in the prices is really the amount of filtering a company does.  I do now and then infuse Vodka and use it for cooking and in cocktails.)

Do I really need to cook with something I’d drink?

No, no, no, no, no, no…and NO!

There are times when I think it would be an absolute shame to use a large amount of fantastic wine or alcohol in a dish – a waste.  I don’t always follow a rule of  “choose something you’ll drink.”  Sorry, Julia and the many, many others who have parroted this saying for decades just because it “sounds” good when one says it. Use your ol’ noodle, as my Mom would have said!

Julia was talking about not using the horrid, salty, syrupy “cooking” wines one can buy at the grocery store.

I often buy a cheap bottle for cooking and a little bit better bottle for drinking, especially if I’ll need more than one bottle of wine for serving and cooking.  If I only need, say a half of a cup, and there are just two of us, and we only want a glass or so with our meal, I’ll just go with one bottle of wine.

If a recipe for a Berry Sauce served over Shortcake with fresh berries and whipping cream calls for a teaspoon or so of Framboise, which is quite expensive, I’ll gladly throw a touch of raspberry schnapps in it, instead. Personally, I’m never tempted to drink that schnapps, but it does give a little something extra to the sauce that wouldn’t be there if I eliminated the alcohol altogether.

As another example: I might want to find a similar alcohol with a similar flavor profile instead of a cheaper alcohol of the type called for:  If I’m making a punch that calls for champagne, I’d rather substitute an inexpensive sparkling wine than use a very cheap Champagne.

The Bottom Line on Quality and Flavor:

Long cooking times and reduction can magnify any flaws you might find in a poorly made or poorly stored wine (notice I didn’t say a cheap wine) or a very cheap alcohol, and it will be most noticeable if the alcohol is the primary flavoring ingredient in the dish and makes up a lot of the liquid content.

On the other hand, I’ve cooked with expensive wines and alcohols and I’ve cooked with cheap ones, too.  I have substituted with abandon over the years and I’ve never made anything that I’ve thought was ruined by the taste of the alcohol or wine in the final dish.

Keeping Left Over Wine for Cooking

Another thing I do to be more frugal:  I never waste wine!  There are so many dishes that are improved by the deep flavors, the alcohol or the astringent notes in wine that I always find some use for a bit of leftover wine.

I have literally had wine, both red and white, that has been opened for a month or longer and still used it in long cooking stews and braises or pan sauces and gravies.  There are hundreds of classic (and new) dishes that call for a bit of vinegar and/or wine that even if the wine has started to turn, they can still “bring it!”  I wouldn’t, however, use an old wine in a dish that called for a delicate or a fresh flavor.

Another Way of Thinking – Alcohol is like Clothing: 

Think of alcohol like you do clothing:  Sometimes sweats are fine – you want the comfort factor or you’re working out, sometimes blue jeans are fine, and sometimes you absolutely need a formal dress or a suit.  And by the way, some blue jeans are more expensive than a dress or a pair of dress slacks.

You probably won’t be wearing your expensive “Sunday best”  to lounge around the house or do yard work, and if you’re interested in being frugal, you’re not going to spend $50.00 for wine for a stew you’re serving to your family on a Tuesday night.  For that same stew, a few glugs of a budget bottle you have in the back of your cupboard might make it taste extraordinary.

You might see someone walking down the street in a pair of old, ripped Levis and they’ll be turning more heads than the person next to them wearing a $1,000 dollar outfit – and it may not be a difference in how handsome or pretty they are compared to the other person – it could just be the way they move, hold themselves or an air of confidence.

Some people will appreciate that assertiveness, and others will appreciate the understated taste of the expensive dresser.  Using wine and alcohol and finding substitutions is kind of like this:  It’s all a matter of taste and not necessarily price, and while good taste has it place, so does flair and flavor.  One is not more “right” than the other.

Maybe one of your grandmothers wore house dresses and smelled like vanilla and the other dressed like Jackie O and smelled of Channel perfume. You loved them both because of the qualities they had, not because of how much money they spent on their clothing, and you may have gone to them with different issues or questions because they both bought something different to the table and met your needs in a different way.

Using wine and alcohol in cooking is much the same: Look at what your “needs” are from your ingredients and experiment, use your judgment and you’ll just “know” eventually what will work and what won’t.

Non Alcoholic Wine Substitutions

For Punches:

Ginger ale, Sparkling water, a clear soda pop like Sprite or Seven Up

For soups and pan sauces:

Use extra broth and add red or white wine vinegar or lemon juice right before serving using the following ratios. (Notice the broth brings some flavor and the vinegar or lemon juice brings the acidity.)

When I make a substitution like this for a beef or lamb stew that calls for a red wine, I often like to add a teaspoon or so of a dark jam, as well, to taste. It brings in the deeper, fruity/berry flavors found in red wine.

To replace 1/2 cup wine use either:

  • 1/2 cup broth + 1 teaspoon wine vinegar, red or white
  • 1/2 cup broth + 1 teaspoon lemon juice

For other dishes:

Consider the following substitutions. This is where your understanding of how wine works in a dish is going to be helpful and you’ll want to keep with the flavor profiles of the dish. (see notes above.) For instance, if you’re making pork chops that call for white wine, you’ll probably want to choose chicken broth and vinegar, or perhaps apple cider rather than clam juice, for sure!

In other words, this is not a bucket list of either or substitutions and requires some judgment on your part. What you are looking for is a similar flavor profile for the wine that is in keeping with the style of the dish.

Red Wine:

  • Substitute water, white grape juice, apple juice or cider, or broth – beef, chicken or a combination to get the specified amount of liquid called for in the recipe. Sometimes you can substitute vegetable stock, cranberry juice, cherry* or tomato juice. You might try liquid drained from vegetables to give a little flavor. A dark jelly can be added to broth for a deeper flavor note, something like current, concord grape or red/black raspberry jelly. If you use nonalcoholic wine, add a tablespoon of vinegar to cut the sweetness.

Wine, White:

  • Substitute an equal measure of white grape juice, ginger ale, chicken broth, apple cider, vegetable broth, liquid from canned mushrooms or artichokes, clam juice, apple juice or cider or nonalcoholic wine. A diluted cider vinegar or white wine vinegar may work here. If you use a non-alcoholic wine, add a tablespoon of vinegar to cut the sweetness.

Fortified wines and some liquors:

  • As a substitute for a port, sweet sherry, rum, brandy, liqueur, substitute the following: equal measure of unsweetened orange juice or apple juice plus 1 teaspoon of corresponding flavored extract or vanilla extract.
  • As a substitute for Sherry in a savory dish, consider a splash of white wine.

Other Alcohols:

  • In a marinade, you might substitute an equal measure of: citrus juice, lemon juice or lemonade, pineapple or orange juice, tomato juice cut with vinegar (about ¼ vinegar to one cup of the tomato juice), ½ and ½ soy and citrus, teriyaki sauce, or a vinegar cut by ½ with water, such as balsamic, red or white vinegar.
  • In a dessert sauce, you might consider simply removing the ingredient, or substituting a fruit juice.

Common Alcohols:

  • Marsala – 1/4 cup of grape juice or dry white wine plus a teaspoon of brandy. Also, equal parts sherry and sweet vermouth, or sherry with angostura bitters.
  • Mirin –  Dry sherry or sweet marsala.  Add a small amount of sugar, like ¼ teaspoon to a ¼ cup of wine or sherry.  You could bring sugar and water to a boil, and cool and then add this mixture or corn syrup to sake, about ¼ cup sugar to ¾ cup sake, or until desired sweetness is reached. Rice Wine vinegar may work well as a substitute in Asian food.
  • Tequila – In a Southwestern type of a marinade, Cactus juice or nectar.  If I’m making a recipe that calls for a small bit of tequila, I sometimes use a squirt or two of lime, instead.  If the recipe already has lime, I’ll just leave the tequila out. In a marinade, I might add a dash of white vinegar.
  • Vermouth, Sweet – apple juice, grape juice, balsamic vinegar, non-alcoholic sweet wine.

Not on this list?

I’ve compiled a list of Common Substitutes for other alcohols, alphabetically listed. Scroll down the list for suggestions.

 Need More Help or You’d Like to Share?

  • Ask your question, below, tell me what you’re making, and I’d be glad to offer some suggestions. Be sure to hit the follow button for the discussion…with any luck, I just might be online. If not, you can be sure if you’re asking, someone else wants to know.
  • If you have successful substitutions, I’d love to hear them…or if you’d tried something here and it didn’t work, I’d really like to know!


How, when & why to substitute for alcohol or wine in a recipe. Common Alcohol Wine Substitutes in Cooking. #AlcoholWineSubstitutes



48 thoughts on “Alcohol/Wine Substitutes in Cooking

  1. Oded

    I know I’m years late but I’m making a pasta sauce recipe that uses tequila so I was wondering if the lime sub would work?

  2. I’m making Barefoot Contessa’s herb & apple stuffing for Thanksgiving & it calls for 1/2 cup dry sherry but 2 children will also be eating it. What can I use instead of dry sherry in this recipe?

    • Computer was down today, so sorry I didn’t get to you earlier – is it this one?

      I don’t see any sherry in it so maybe she has another version. Most stuffings are between 10 – 16 servings and a half a cup is 8 tablespoons or 24 teaspoons. So I would consider a couple of things. First, will the kids eat the stuffing? Just asking because of all my friends and relatives, I know about 2 kids who will even touch it. 2nd, are you opposed to all alcohol for children or not? If so, just use a good chicken stock. If you want some of the enhancement of the sherry but not THAT much, you could cut back but keep in mind that some, but not all, will dissipate with the heat. I’m also guessing with a half cup the stuffing will be pretty boozy tasting. That might be a turn off to kids right away. Of course, you could simply put a little stuffing in a casserole before adding the sherry and moisten that with chicken stock. Whew, that’s a lot of ideas. Personally, my kids were raised with dishes that had alcohol, although I certainly can’t vouch on how they turned out, lol! 🙂 Of course I love them both dearly.

      • Thank you so much for the ideas and also Ina’s Herb & Apple Stuffing that you linked to me apparently was her original one and she stuffed the turkey back then. The updated version was from last year and she had dry sherry in it and did not stuff the bird, which I don’t do any more either. So I’ll compare both versions and probably do a combo of both. By the way, both children who will be here and love stuffing (dressing)would definitely not enjoy the dry sherry flavor at all!
        Thanks again, greatly appreciated!

        • Oh, gosh, maybe kids just don’t like MY stuffing, lol!! I don’t stuff my bird anymore, either. Safety and I think they cook so much more evenly. But that IS SO MUCH Sherry! I can always taste a tablespoon in a dish = I bet your stuffing will be lovelyl! Happy Thanksgiving.

  3. Mary Zimmerman

    Hi. Thank you so much for this article! I’m a Celiac, and I’m making a Maple Sugar Pie for Thanksgiving. One of the ingredients is 1 tablespoon of whiskey. Although through the disillusion process, most alcohol is gluten free; I’ve had a problem with Bourbon. Now I’m afraid to make a pie I can’t enjoy if it calls for whiskey. Please help! Do you have a suggestion for a replacement ingredient in this pie? I’ll love you forever! Thank you!

    • If I couldn’t go the whisky/bourbon route, I think I’d just stick with vanilla, just a teaspoon would probably do it. Maple is such a strong flavor it will carry the pie. I hope that helps, but I’m guessing you’ve already thought of that option.

  4. Drucella

    Making a keylime pie calls for tequila & was wondering if could substitute it with a bourbon or other whiskey just found this website & will be keeping it & following it use lot of differ substitute 4 alcohol so will be referring to this site thx

    • Hi Drucella, thanks for the lovely compliments! I think any clear type of alcohol would work, but you have to decide if the flavor would go with lime and how powerful the alcohol flavor is. Personally, tequila and lime are great, I think vodka would be fine, but I think bourbon or whiskey would be very questionable…they might hijack rather than enhance the flavor. Just my opinion!

  5. Abby

    WOW… HOLY COW….. this is an amazing post, you have talked about and answered soooo many questions for me ! this is a keeper for sure.
    This is why I just love your site.
    Thank You so much

  6. Eve

    So I used to make this appetizer blending blue chesse and cream cheese in equal parts, then topping with a port reduction and candied nuts, serving with toast points or crackers. I am a long time recovering alcoholic, and would like to avoid the port. I was thinking of using pomegranate molasses as a sub. What’s your opinion on this swap? Suggestions? Thank you!

  7. Adrienne

    I am making an dish for Christmas morning it has bacon, grn pepper, onions, mushrooms, pimento, eggs, milk, spices and gruyere cheese and it calls for 3 Tbsp of sherry. I do not want to buy a bottle of sherry, I will have no use for the rest of it. Can you suggest something else in place of

    • Hi Adrienne, with all those flavors going on it seems like you could simply leave the sherry out! Is the sherry in a sauce that goes over it or is it like a baked egg dish? If it is a sauce you might miss the little bit of punch sherry gives it and I’ll often add a little dash of white wine or sherry vinegar…

      One consideration: Sherry is a fortified wine and keeps, literally, for years – and if you’re not going to be sipping it, you can usually find a bottle (at least here in the States) for four to six dollars – I’ve had the same bottle for about 3 years, and I just use a tablespoon or two here or there. I use it in salad dressings, cream type sauces, my chicken pot pie, my chicken & artichoke casserole, cream of vegetable potage, my chicken cordon bleu casserole, stuffed mushrooms, in some Chinese dishes, in marinades just to name a few uses…

      Hope that helps!

      • Adrienne

        Thanks a lot. Maybe I will buy some then. I did not know it would keep so long. This recipe says to fry the bacon, drain and add grn pepper, onion, and mushrooms until limp add pimento and sherry. Beat eggs, milk and spices, add bacon mixture and cheese. Then bake in oven.

        • I think you could very easily skip the sherry in that but it sounds delish either way! Look for Taylor’s if I remember right (I’m not at my house) but if not just tell the guy you’re looking for a sherry to cook with (not a sweet sherry.)

  8. Chantal

    Hi my name is Chantal, my husband and I came out to this cottage for a romantic getaway, we went grocery shopping before we came but we forgot to get beef stock. I’ve read you can substitute it with a little red wine and water but I only have whisky. Could I use that instead?

    • Chantal – just got your message, but was tied up this morning and it’s 2:45 here already! The question is what are you using the beef stock in? What are you making – hope you have a chance to check back but the most important thing – don’t stress about the food. Maybe just sip the whiskey and go from there…wink! Hope you have a lovely time!

  9. Frugal, I’m so impressed with your knowledge of one of my faves (wine) and pairing/cooking with diff. foods in general. I’ve learned quite a lot. That’s why I visit yr site. Bravo!

  10. BrendaE

    Hello! My boyfriend is coming home tomorrow from rehab for alcoholism. I want to make him a special dinner to show him I’m proud of his accomplishment. The problem is that I’m making him Romarsala Eggs and it calls for 1/4 c Marsala wine. I read your article and I see that I could use white grape juice and lemon. Do you think this would work? He can’t have anything containing vinegar either so I’m stumped. This recipe is put together like an egg lasagna. The ingredients call for eggs, Romano and Havarti cheeses, cream, corn starch, chicken bullion paste, mushrooms, and butter.

    • Hi Brenda. Thanks for the comment. I haven’t ever had that particular dish, but if your set on it, I think I’d give it a try. I can’t think of a better substitute given the restrictions – unless you can find a non-alcoholic marsala. I have never heard of such a thing. This is the first time I’ve heard of a restriction on vinegar so I found that interesting – it is made from wine, though.

      I think the grape juice would give it a bit of the flavor you’d find in wine and the lemon a bit of acidity. I’d go for it – I can’t think it would be bad at all, but just a bit different! The dish sounds lovely with those cheeses!

      Good luck to you guys! 🙂

  11. sadafk

    Hi! I want to make cannoli, but the reciped ask for white wine. What can I replace it with? Thank you!

  12. What a great post. I’m always substituting various booze for others, most times successfully, sometimes, not so much! I used to work for a distillery and have amassed quite the collection of alcohol that I would never drink. Cook with however…:)

      • Ha ha! Let’s just say that my employment ended 15 years ago and supplies are down to the yucky stuff! I mean, there is only so much you can do with Crème de Menthe, you know? I often replace wine (‘coz I had drunk it all….) with smaller quantities of sherry (which I now have no more of! sigh…) I will often interchange liqueurs because they are similar strengths of alcohol but will change things up a bit such as Amaretto and Frangelico – different nuts, different flavour….

        Now, how to get rid of the various whiskies…

        • Ah, yes, the Creme de Menthe! Back in the 60’s my parents used to put a drizzle of it over ice-cream after special dinners – not much alcohol in it, but certainly not something most parents do these days! Good point about the similar strengths – I don’t know that I mentioned that – that the fortified wines. I often substitute Sherry and Marsala – different flavor profiles but the same strength. I’m afraid I don’t drink much whiskey, either, but I do use in in a home-made Irish Cream, something real appreciators of good whiskey would probably cringe at!

          • Ha ha! Yep! Pretty much the only thing my parents ever used it for… Hmm. I don’t know if you did or not. I use my Canadian whiskies in a wicked eggnog that I am not allowed to show up without at Christmastime! I fear I do not appreciate good whiskey as it should be either…

  13. donn breland

    we have a supper coming up for our church, they all want me to try to make a fake bourbon beef roast. is it possible?

    • Interesting! Let me do a bit of checking, as I haven’t had a bourbon beef roast. It sounds marvelous, though. Do you have a recipe you’re working off of, already?

      Is the bourbon just in the sauce itself, after the roast is cooked? I’d lean toward using a white wine vinegar, but I’d like to know more about it before making a recommendation…in the meantime, I’ll be googling!

      • Ok, I see several types of bourbon roast – one is a Southern Dish (with a lot of the same flavors as my Bourbon Chicken – brown sugar, soy, etc.)

        Another is an English type of a roast with a mushroom gravy and bourbon.

        Last seems to be more of a honey mustard concoction with Bourbon.

        I think all could easily be done without the Bourbon, especially the first one. If you list the ingredients/amounts, I’d be glad to see if we can come up with the right substitute(s) that has the appropriate depth, tang and smoky richness of Bourbon.

  14. Lena

    Hi i’m making a spaghetti sauce recipe and it ask for red wine,
    It’s being used to release flavors from the tomatoes that are alcohol soluble.

    What are other substitutes i can use. Iv’e seen a few of them but none of them have been very convincing.

    • Hi Lena, if this is a normal sized batch, I’d consider using a bit of red wine vinegar, maybe a tablespoon and a half in place of a cup of wine. Make up the rest of the volume with tomato juice, water or a little more tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes with juice. The thing is that I don’t know if the same qualities are still viable in the red wine vinegar to optimize the flavors.

      I wonder if Vodka would be a great substitute since so many Italian pasta sauces contain some vodka – it’s clean and astringent. Again, you wouldn’t use the same volume as you would for wine. Maybe 1/4 cup instead of a cup, for instance.

      Marsala might be very good, but will really add it’s own flavor and completely change the flavor of the dish, although this may be subtle.

      The finished flavor will change during the simmering process, but you might get an idea of final taste by trying a tablespoon of the sauce and adding a few drops of what you are considering using as a substitute.

      I don’t know if you’re just going to use what you may have on hand because you don’t have wine, or if there is some objection to wine and you are going to shop for something else…

      Hope this helps!

  15. Valerie

    Recipe for braised chicken calls for Sherry Wine…I bought Sherry Vinegar in error. What wine (or liquid) should I substitute? Thank you! (Using Stock, leeks, turnips, carrots, tarragon, lemon zest)

    • Valerie, I’m not an expert on what wine goes best with Turnips – lol, but I’m glad to hear of anyone using them. I love turnips and rutabagas – oh, and parsnips, too!

      I would go with a very dry white wine, if you have it, but I’m guessing that your recipe calls for a small bit of Sherry? A tablespoon or two? I’d start with 1/2 cup of dry white wine and hold back about a cup of stock, taste and then see if you like the flavor. If you do, then add in the half cup of stock. If you want a stronger “winey” flavor, then add more wine.

      Hope that makes sense and that I didn’t reply too late! The recipe sounds very French with the tarragon and lemon. What time is dinner?

  16. For the person who wants to know if you can substitute red wine for rum in a cake, I’d say no no no no no no no no no…I find myself saying that ever since I watched the Vicar of Dibley on Netflix…

    Now I once had a very dense cake that was made with some cornmeal, yogurt and olive oil and had a sweet red wine sauce – it was awesome! But to bake IN the cake, uh uh…

  17. For the person who wanted to know if you can substitute vodka and sweet wine for a stock reduction, it would depend on a couple of things:

    How far are you reducing? The more something reduces the more concentrated the flavor of the alcohol is going to be. That’s why one needs to be particularly careful when reducing red wine – bitter tannins or an off flavor will affect the final product more than you might realize. If you’re going for a super concentrated reduction it might not be a good idea.

    When speaking of white wine, I’m assuming it is probably a chicken stock (or turkey) stock reduction…or even fish, which would be more delicate flavors.

    But all that depends, too, on what the final product is going to be – what are the other flavors involved? If there are stronger flavors that will help marry any dissonant notes, you may very well be alright.

    Most of all, I’d wonder if the final product could use a hint of sweetness, and if so, I’d certainly try a LOT less of the sweet wine than a dry wine and just a dash of the vodka.

    Hope that helps and that you see this!

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